Britain revels in return to superpower status

Sun Aug 21, 2016 4:46pm EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The "Great Haul of China" in 2008 was seen as something of an aberration, 2012's success was surely all through home advantage but, after their best medal return from an overseas Games, Britain is indisputably back as an Olympic superpower.

Twenty years ago, long before marketers invented "Team GB", Britain trudged home from Atlanta with a solitary gold medal courtesy of rowers Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent and just 15 in all, placing a humiliating 36th in the medal table.

They leave Rio with 67, including 27 gold, sitting proudly second, above China and behind only the all-powerful United States.

Remarkably that tally surpasses the 65 with 29 gold from the home Games of four years ago and is topped only by the London Games of 1908 when they won 146, 56 of them gold - totals inflated somewhat by many events where barely anyone else took part.

"It makes me bloody proud," Sebastian Coe, the former head of the London Games organizing committee said this week.

"What a legacy. We wanted to ensure not just participation but to inspire people.

"We are winning medals across sports you would not have even have dreamed of even 10 years ago."

When Britain started to begin punching its weight again in Sydney 2000, with 11 golds, the hosts joked that they could win only in sports where you have to sit down.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Men's 5000m Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 20/08/2016. Gold medalist Mo Farah (GBR) of Britain celebrates. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi